Archive for August, 2013

SNEAK SHEEP PEAK

MARY HAD A SLEEPY SHEEP

Written by Julia Dweck

Illustrated by Wilson Williams, Jr.

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This a a preview of the kindle version of Julia Dweck’s newest book to be officially released on September 5, which can be preordered at a discount on Amazon.

I was really surprised to learn that a girl named Mary Sawyer did have a little lamb that she brought with her to school in Sterling, Massachusetts around 1830. A statue of the lamb remains in the town today. Ms. Dweck dedicated this book to her husband Sheppard and named her sheep character after him.

In this new retelling of the classic nursery rhyme, Mary has a pet sheep with a problem; it never seems to be able to stay awake. When Sheppard shows up in Mary’s bed, her mother yells, screams, and kicks the animal out of the house. Mary is desperate to teach her pet to sleep. She tries reading it books, dancing lessons, spraying it with garden hoses, and tickling it with feathers. Mary feeds her sheep spicy food, snacks and drinks. She sprays her sheep with shaving cream, turns the heat off and blasts her music on the French horn. Finally, Mary decides to try a technique that humans use when they can’t get to sleep. To her surprise, it works! Now she has the opposite problem; Sheppard can’t seem to stay awake!

As is the case in most of Ms. Dweck’s other books, the rhymes are cleverly written in four line verse. My only concern in this kindle version is that the text is written in white letters that get washed out in the color on some pages making it a little difficult to read. Some parents may take issue with the fact that Mary’s mother literally kicks Sheppard out of bed while yelling and screaming at the sheep. Very young children may misunderstand the illustrator’s attempt at humor.

There are lots of bonus features included with this book. Four website links will allow the reader to explore his skills in being a cartoonist, actor, designer or author. Readers are asked to search for the picture of a hidden mouse on each of the pages. There is a separate “find what is wrong on this page” activity as well. Children are encouraged to continue learning and having fun after they finish reading the book making this purchase a good investment.

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NIFTY FIFTY

Nifty Fifty State Facts for Fun! (Book 2)

Written by Wyatt Michaels

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This is the second in a series making learning about the fifty states fun and informative. Rather than presenting a list of state capitols, symbols and associations, Michaels assembles trivia and facts in game format. In each case, the question is posed with three possible choices. The reader is asked to choose the correct answer. If you are wrong, you are given the opportunity to make another choice. In many cases, the reader is given a hint to help make a decision.

There are many where questions. For example: Where is Mount Rushmore?; Where did the sundae begin?;Where was the birthplace of the first TV?  A lot of questions involve firsts: the first state to vote for independence, the first National Park, the first state to make laws for cars, the first celebration of Memorial Day, and  the location of the first public zoo. Another group of questions deal with the longest and the largest. These include the longest running radio station, longest floating bridge, longest sky way bridge, the largest gold producing state, and largest cable bridge. Then there are the facts dealing with unique situations. Which state was the birthplace of four presidents? Which state holds the world record for most rainfall in a 24 hour period? What is the name of the state which turned down hosting the Olympics? Name the state that has a floating post office. From which state do the names on the Monopoly game board originate? Whose state flag was designed by a teenager? What governor has a state named after him even though he never set foot in that state?

This book makes a great activity for children on a long car ride. Much better than name the license plate. Children and adults will also learn some useful information to use as conversation starters. The game provides a quick reference source. There are maps and photographs that will enhance geographical knowledge as well. So if you are going on a road trip or want a new book to place on your coffee table, you might want to consider this quick read.

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FREEDOM RIDE

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Award winning author Barbara Ann Mojica brings you her second book of the Little Miss HISTORY series titled Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The Statue of Liberty.

Since her last trip to Mount Rushmore, Little Miss HISTORY has journeyed more than 1700 miles over land, sea and air to reach her second destination, The Statue of Liberty. This national treasure stands proudly in New York Harbor welcoming all people to the land of freedom and opportunity. In this second book of the series, Little Miss HISTORY will help you discover who thought of the statue in the first place, the values she symbolizes, the architects and engineers who built Lady Liberty, and the little known individuals who contributed their pennies to make her debut in New York’s harbor possible. You will learn about why she remains a promise and symbol of the hopes and aspirations of many people around the world and not just to immigrants coming to America. Come now and follow Little Miss HISTORY as she enlightens you about The Statue of Liberty!

THE BOOK IS AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY AT https://www.createspace.com/4409159

http://www.amazon.com/Little-HISTORY-Travels-Statue-Liberty/dp/1492211842/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377553785&sr=1-1&keywords=Little+Miss+History+Travels+to+the+Statue+of+Liberty

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/little-miss-history-travels-to-the-statue-of-liberty-mrs-barbara-ann-mojica/1116744014?ean=9781492211846

MomGiveawaySummer2013I’LL BE GIVING AWAY A COPY OF
MY SECOND BOOK FEATURED ABOVE!

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TEACHABLE MOMENTS

Bleagh: A book about values

 

Written by Leana Lyn Doray

Illustrated by Little Pink Pebble

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This book uses a unique approach to teach life lessons to children by engaging a monster creature named Bleagh (pronounced Bleh). Doray prefaces the book by giving the three definitions of bleagh: 1) the name of a friendly monster who wants to make new friends, 2) the sound children make when they smell something unpleasant, and 3) the sound that a friendly monster makes. At the beginning of the story, the reader meets Bleagh, a friendly but ugly homesick monster who has just arrived at school for the first time. Bleagh misses his other monster friends and does not understand the language or the customs of these children who appear terrified of him. Their teacher, Ms. Lyn explains that the creature is not mean but afraid so they should show EMPATHY for him. They do make an effort to do just that, but Bleagh terrifies them with the sounds he makes. She encourages the children to show TOLERANCE,  but that is very difficult to do when the creature opens stinky garbage to eat for his lunch. Some of the children get the brilliant idea to give him a pile of stinky socks to eat. The classroom practices COOPERATION when they all must assume different roles in a class project. There are team leaders, presenters, timekeepers and illustrators. When the time comes for the students to examine all their work hung on the walls, Bleagh says that one of them, “looks like a baboon’s backside.” He has the children in tears. Ms. Lyn says, “You never truly see something till you see beauty.” After a few moments, Bleagh steps back and notices new colors and patterns, exclaiming, “It’s fantastic.” They all break out in applause. Near the end of the day, Ms. Lyn reminds them that it is time to vote for the Star Student of the day. Bleagh wants to vote for himself, but decides that would be cheating. So he displays INTEGRITY and votes for Ming instead. There is a surprise ending that all readers will enjoy.

In addition to the four highlighted virtues embedded in the story, there are spellbinding illustrations of monsters, exotic plants, art work, and the classroom in which the children work. Little Pink Pebble has done an amazing job of portraying the story line and moods of the characters. The drawings display multicultural children in beautiful colors and exotic settings. Furthermore, the lessons it promotes have universal appeal and relevance. I highly recommend this book to parents and teachers of children age seven and up.

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TURTLE TRUTHS

Samantha Loses The Box Turtle

Written by Daisy Griffin
Illustrated by Matthew Gauvin
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This book is a fictional story about a girl named Samantha who is traveling with her grandparents and two younger sisters when a box turtle suddenly crosses the road. She pleads with them to stop, and to her surprise grandpa not only rescues the turtle but hands it to her. Once they return home, the girls plead with their parents to keep it, but mom explains that a box turtle needs to live in the wild. She agrees that they can keep it until the next day. Samantha also gets her teacher’s permission to bring the turtle to school.

Many adventures ensue as the turtle they have named Gayzer manages to escape both at home and in the classroom. Samantha introduces us to several of her friends and their reactions to her turtle. Because they are studying the food chain in science, their teacher, Mrs. Klutz, has devised a very clever “answer the question and pass the turtle” game to teach the children. At the same time, the reader is learning a lot of facts about turtles, nature and ecosystems. An element of suspense is introduced when the turtle goes missing and the neighborhood cat somehow gets into the classroom. This causes the entire student body to go into an uproar as everyone in the room desperately searches for Gayzer Samantha is supposed to protect and return her turtle to the nature preserve after school. Now she feels guilty that she may have caused it harm.

This chapter book with beautiful black and white illustrations is just over one hundred pages. The charming way the story is told will entertain children in first grade and up if read in chapters. Older children will amass a great deal of information about reptiles and nature; such as, how to tell the sex of a turtle, what they eat, how they survive in their habitats, and how long they live. The adult characters guide the children, but do not preach or make decisions for them. There is just the right amount of humor like naming the teacher Mrs. Klutz, and the toddler sister placing stickers on the turtle so that she could identify it when searching for it in the nature preserve. I thought the questions based on the book at the end were well done and an excellent resource for teachers to test comprehension. In the conclusion, the author reveals that the story is based on the real life experience of a family with three daughters and grandparents who rescue a box turtle named Gayzer and release it to a nature preserve. She also provides additional fun facts about box turtles and includes her website www.samsanimals.info. I am looking forward to many more animal adventure stories with Samantha and her family.

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PRINCESS IN PERIL

The Escape of Princess Madeline

Written by Kirstin Pulioff

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This book has been classified as a young adult novella. The protagonist is Princess Madeline and the setting is the medieval kingdom of Soron. Madeline’s mother,  Queen Eleanor, is introduced in the Prologue by the wizard Elias and again alluded to in the Epilogue. The subtlety of these allusions will become evident to the reader at the conclusion of the tale.

At the beginning of the story, we meet Princess Madeline and her twin brother Braden. They will soon be celebrating their sixteenth birthdays. Madeline’s best friend in Sophia who is a commoner. Alas! She cannot really understand the life of a princess. Sophia is in love with Braden and it seems that her dreams of happiness with him are doomed. King Theodore has attempted to raise his children to be proper heirs of the kingdom, but Madeline is a determined, headstrong and passionate princess who has begun to question her father’s authority. He presents Madeline with a beautiful green gown that was once worn my the mother she never knew. The trouble begins when Madeline learns that the ball to celebrate her birthday is really an opportunity for all the royal suitors to compete for her hand. Enraged by this prospect, Madeline wears another gown in defiance and then feigns illness to escape the ball. This behavior infuriates her father and embarrasses the family.

When Madeline is awakened by Sophia the next morning, she learns that there is to be a jousting tournament to determine which of the knights will become her Knight Protector. Her father forces her to attend. She spies a young knight named Daniel who evokes “butterflies in her stomach” and other unexplained emotions in her head. Madeline disappears from her viewing point before the end of the contest. She is determined to escape what she feels is a life in prison.

When her disappearance is discovered, all the knights in the kingdom go to search for her. Daniel, especially is determined to win her back. Madeline is clever; she switches her gown with the clothes of a peasant girl that she meets in the forest. She bribes her with a bag of gold coins. But Daniel discovers that the family is hiding the royal dress and finds out that Madeline is still alive. Madeline is alive but she has been captured by bandits in the forest. This young pampered princess has never had to use survival skills, but she is clever and strong. She manages to escape not once but twice. Things are looking gloomy for her; Madeline has learned a few lessons about family, love, and responsibility along her journey. The wizard Elias and his green robed elves make an appearance. Here is where the author successfully merges the fantasy environment with the strong characters and modern day coming of age plot.  What will happen to Madeline? Does Daniel win the princess?  Will the king and his daughter mend their relationship?

This book contains in depth character studies and a story line that moves along well with a few twists and turns. Mature middle grade readers might enjoy the fantasy elements though the plot is more suitable for young adult readers. In fact, I did feel like I was reading a story more intended for an adult audience so my suggested audience would be twelve plus. Looking forward to hearing more about Princess Madeline and her life’s journey.

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A LIFE OF ILLUSION

History for Kids: An Illustrated Life of Harry Houdini

By Charles River Editions

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Harry was born Ehrich Weisz in Budapest, Hungary in the year 1874. His father was a trained lawyer who moved to Wisconsin due to discrimination against Jews. Here he became a  rabbi moving from congregation to congregation to support his wife and six children.

At the age of nine, Ehrich was already putting on magic shows in his backyard, When he was twelve he tried his hand at magic by traveling west. He soon moved back to New York to join his father where he worked as a messenger and factory worker while training and developing his body into that of an athlete. He discovered the French magician Robert Houdin and added an I to his name. For a while Ehrich put on magic shows with his younger brother Theo. Ehrich became Harry Houdini. When he met Bess, he teamed up with her magic card act, and they worked to develop new magic show acts. Harry began developing his escape acts beginning with escaping from a steamer trunk and then handcuffs. The tricks became more and more elaborate. After visiting a mental hospital, Harry came up with the idea of escaping from a straitjacket. A man named Martin Beck discovered Harry and booked him for a European tour. At this time he learned the swallowing forty needles trick. All throughout Europe, Harry perfected his handcuff escape and straitjacket tricks and added a new trick which was to escape from a tank filled with water.

By the turn of the twentieth century, Harry and Bess were rich. He tried other pursuits like writing diaries and magic books. Then he became obsessed with “death-defying” stunts. He threw his manacled body over bridges and dove handcuffed into rivers. He even performed an escape from being buried alive stunt that almost killed him. Harry was no longer a young man. His kidneys were failing, but he refused to quit. Harry became a pilot; he developed an interest in the movies believing that they would replace stage shows one day. But one night after being punched in the stomach, he collapsed during a performance suffering from appendicitis. Harry ignored his pain and refused to cancel the performance. Houdini died on Halloween night in 1926 at the age of fifty two. His life could best be summed up in his dying words, “Dash, I am getting tired and I can’t fight it any more.”

This biography is replete with photographs and posters from the family and mentors as well as pictures of some of the more famous Houdini stunts. Children age seven and older will find his personal struggle, moral character and determination inspiring. The story moves along quickly and is well written. Boys and girls, and of course, magic lovers will find it an interesting read.

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